Platform for young people to shine

Yamkela Nqweniso, founder of reading and poetry session talks about the importance of reading.

A group of young people in Harare Khayelitsha is on a mission to encourage their peers to write their own stories and poems.

At the launch of the reading and poetry session initiative at Harare library on Friday October 7, budding poets and storytellers were urged to be critical thinkers and write authentic stories.

At just 16, Yamkela Nqweniso who is doing Grade 11 at Manyano High School in Ilitha Park, is the brain behind this initiative.

She said the aim was to rekindle that “old reading flame” while inculcating a culture of visiting libraries among her peers.

She said she started hosting the reading and poetry sessions four weeks ago and is merely trying to create a platform for budding storytellers to exhibit their work and groom each other.

She said during the sessions they also have educational conversations about topical issues around the country and the world.

The core focus of the initiative is to derail the youth from being lured into doing drugs and criminal activities.

Yamkela said she was thrilled that Nal’ ibali had endorsed her initiative which she urged young people to support. “ I was inspired to start this initiative when I was invited to attend a poetry and reading session at Kuyasa library, run by Inkululeko In Minds.

“This is a peer-to-peer initiative and it aims to (encourage us to) lend a helping to one another in honing our skills. We also advise each other with life-skills about how to deal with life issues and better ways to diffuse peer pressure,” she said.

Poet and founder of Inkululeko in Minds, Asanele Mvanda, said he was thrilled that young people were creating platforms which sought to urge their peers to engage on positive things. He said he believed young people should not wait for older people to open up spaces that seek to empower them but should be the ones creating those platforms to equip each other. He said his organisation’s aim was to see each and every library in the township having poetry and storytelling sessions.

He said the organisation was established in 2012 with one aim in mind: to encourage young people to visit libraries and engage in dialogues about matters affecting them. He said they have also held book fair sessions whereby they asked well known authors to read their books and equipp them with skills on how to write their own books and stories.

“Our aim is to inspire our peers to engage on more meaningful issues which will expand their knowledge and challenge them to be creative thinkers. We have hosted the likes of Andrea Dondolo who is well known actor and writer to be part of our book fare sessions,” he said.

Budding storyteller and poet Zukisa Bikitsha, 32, described the launch as a critical step that sought to help the youth to be a positive influence to the community. He said he attended the event to support this initiative and he hopes more young people would come out in numbers to be part of it.

“Young people need to be the agent of change.

“We need start creating platforms like these in order to curb the high rate of crime committed by young people,” he said.